What? Christmas at Chatsworth
Where? Chatsworth House
When? 9th November – 5th January
Star Rating: ★★★★☆
Christmas is a strange time of year for me. I always find myself striving to feel festive, which makes everything seem forced.
As I get further into my 20s, it’s as if I’m trying to recapture the feeling of Christmas as a kid. But, no matter how much Mariah I belt out or how many mince pies I bake, sometimes the festive feeling never comes.
But then sometimes it hits me like a train (or a sleigh, if you will). Last weekend, that very thing happened.
My boyfriend and I decided to go to Chatsworth House on a whim. I saw pictures of the grounds on a colleague’s Instagram story. After a quick scroll through their feed, I thought I’d visit to say goodbye to Autumn.
It was a relatively quiet day, what with half of South Yorkshire being submerged in water. We were allocated a time slot, but didn’t have to wait at all.
(If you’re arriving in the next few weeks, though, prepare beforehand and buy your tickets in advance. Not only are you saving money, you’ll save yourself waiting out in the cold too.)
I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t expecting much from Chatsworth. Having grown up in Rotherham, my main experience of stately homes growing up was Clifton Park. It had clothes to dress up in, a WWII bomb shelter, and a taxidermy bear that still haunts me to this day…
Thankfully, Chatsworth House exceeded my expectations.
As soon as we entered the foyer, my jaw nearly fell off its hinges. We were met with a crackling open fire and a Christmas tree the size of a double decker bus.
We had a bit of fiasco getting into the building regarding our bags. (It turns out Christmas at Chatsworth isn’t run by elves but, rather, a team of feisty staff members on walkie-talkies.) However, we were then greeted by a lovely guide, who gave us a beautifully illustrated map of the house.
This year, the winter theme is Christmas around the world. Visitors get to “follow in the footsteps of explorers Phileas Fogg and Amelia Earheart on a fantastical journey and discover the magic of Christmas.”
As you walk around the house, each room is themed with a different country in mind.
Sometimes, this doesn’t work. Rooms based on countries such as China and Japan are poorly designed: it’s as if they used leftover paper dragons from Chinese New Year. At worst, it feels like orientalism dressed up in a Santa hat.
But for the most part, the rooms are gorgeously curated. Highlights include Canada, with its Autumnal oranges, and Sweden, which includes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ABBA reference.
The centrepiece, however, is undoubtedly the great hall. There you’ll find a sweeping staircase, a Santa sleigh, and several towering Christmas trees.
The rest of Chatsworth remains the same in Winter. The gardens are stunning and the farmyard is great fun, even for a couple of 20-year olds like us…
The food, whilst hardly cheap, is also good value for money. I had curried cauliflower stew, which was exactly what I needed after an hour out in the biting cold.
Christmas still seems far away. But, even in mid-November, walking around Chatsworth was enough to ignite my Christmas spirit. For someone who finds it hard to get into a Christmassy-mindset, it took me completely by surprise.
You can visit the Chatsworth House website here to find out more and book tickets.